Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanazlah had the unenviable task of standing in for the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the final winding-up of the 2016 Budget, although Najib who had already returned from Turkey and was in Parliament for the voting, could have handled the winding-up personally.
But what is the use of having a Second Finance Minister if one is unable to send him like a Roman gladiator into the Coliseum of ancient times to fight the lions.
Husni’s answer on the twin mega scandals was a “washout” and total disgrace, further proof that Najib government has more to hide than to reveal and account about the RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM50 billion 1MDB twin mega scandals.
Husni should have had an easy job with the 1MDB explanation in Parliament, not only because he is undoubtedly the most knowledgeable Minister on 1MDB after he was appointed as the Cabinet spokesman for 1MDB for two months in mid-year forcing him to try “master” the intricacies and complexities of the 1MDB scandal – but also because the 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy should have prepared the stage for him with Arul’s “virtuoso” explanation of the 1MDB to 2,000 UMNO divisional leaders, representatives from UMNO-compliant NGOs and government agencies at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) on Saturday.
But Husni was wise not to try to repeat Arul’s “cop-out” performance as with “hawkish” MPs in Parliament, like DAP MP for PJ Utara Tony Pua and PKR MP for Pandan Rafizi Ramli, he would not get away unscathed if he had repeated Arul’s stunts in Parliament yesterday.
As a result, MPs and the nation were none the wiser about the RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM50 billion 1MDB twin mega-scandals despite another budget debate in Parliament – the sixth in the history of the 1MDB scandal since 2009!
Arul had boasted that 1MDB was the most investigated state fund in the country with five agencies – Bank Negara Malaysia, police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Auditor-General’s Chambers and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) – launching several probes.
What Arul failed to add is that despite being “nominally” the most investigated state fund in the country by five agencies, 1MDB is probably the most superficially probed with the police suspending investigations and awaiting the outcome of Auditor-General’s investigations, Bank Negara and MACC hamstrung in their probes and the PAC derailed from continuing its investigations for more than three months and has still to resume its probe.
What is more significant is not that 1MDB is “nominally” the most investigated state fund in the country by five agencies, but it is the first Malaysian case which is most investigated internationally by over a half dozen countries, including the United Kingdom, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Hong Kong, United States and Australia.
So much for international infamy.
It is most depressing and most hurtful for patriotic Malaysians that while the Najib government continues to do its utmost to avoid and evade accountability for the twin mega scandals, the expose of the multiple layers of the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal overseas continues unabated and peeling off one after another – the latest coinciding with United States President Barrack Obama’s visit to Malaysia next week.
1MDB has admitted that the state-owned fund, through its unit 1MDB Synergy Sdn Bhd, had entered into a master joint venture agreement with Yurus PE Fund to develop the solar plant project in April 2014.
The Yurus PE Fund is managed by US-based DuSable, a company owned by Frank White, a chief fundraiser for Obama.
Will 1MDB and DuSable Capital Management come clean on their 50MW solar power plant joint venture project in Kedah and the US$69 million (RM300 million) proceeds that Yurus Private Equity Fund (Yurus PE Fund) earned in less than six months?
On Nov 11, US-based The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that the investor in Yurus PE Fund was Aabar Investment PJS, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) which is involved in financing deals of US$3.5 billion to help 1MDB’s rationalisation scheme.
Yesterday, the news portal Asia Sentinel in a report entitled “1MDB May Have Violated US Election Laws” said records compiled by the Sarawak Report, the UK-based news site run by Clare Rewcastle Brown, indicate that 1MDB may have violated US Federal Election Law by channeling money to a well-connected US lobbying firm, which subsequently poured money into the 2014 electoral campaigns of at least seven Democrats.
The Asia Sentinel Report said:
“The vehicle was DuSable Capital Management, incorporated in Delaware, which features some of the US’s weakest corporate registration laws, on May 9, 2013.
“DuSable was the brainchild of Frank White Jr., the National vice-chairman of President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign and co-chair for the president’s 2013 Inauguration Committee, and Shomik Dutta, a former hedge fund executive and fellow political campaigner.
“DuSable registered as a foreign agent for the government of Malaysia five months later, on Sept. 9 with its sole registered client 1MDB and the government of Malaysia.
“In its registration as a foreign agent, DuSable declared multiple roles in both consulting for the 1MDB solar project, raising investment for a related development partnership and lobbying to obtain US government ‘non-financial support’ for these ventures.
“However, there was no discernible need for 1MDB to seek approval or support from the US for the project. It would also appear that the US$506,000 paid to DuSable by 1MDB was the sole source of DuSable’s funds.
“On Sept. 29, 10 days later, DuSable made contributions of US$5,200 to the Senate campaigns of Mark Begich and Michelle Nunn. On July 1, 2014, DuSable contributed US$25,000 to the gubernatorial campaign of Terry McAuliffe. Other US$500 contributions went to the Senate campaigns of Don Beyer, Kevin Strouse and Rho Khanna. Dick Durbin, the Democratic Senate Whip, received another US$5,200.
“Surreptitious contributions to US political candidates from overseas is no laughing matter. In 2001, Indonesia’s James Tjahaha Riady, the head of the Lippo Group, was fined a record US$8.6 million on a felony charge of conspiring to defraud the United States by unlawfully reimbursing campaign donors with foreign corporate funds in violation of federal election law. In addition, LippoBank California, a California state-chartered bank affiliated with Lippo Group, pleaded guilty to 86 misdemeanor counts charging its agents, Riady and John Huang, with making illegal foreign campaign contributions from 1988 through 1994.”
Husni should have responded to this Asia Sentinel report in his winding-up yesterday, in particular, the Asia Sentinel’s report of the speculation that the US$69 million (RM300 million) proceeds that Yurus Private Equity Fund (Yurus PE Fund) earned in less than six months was linked to Frank White’s relationship with President Obama in connection with persuading Obama to take Najib golfing with him in December last year at the Clipper Golf Course on the US Marine base in Hawaii.
Will the Public Accounts Committee Chairman Datuk Hasan Arifin ensure that the PAC investigations into 1MDB probe into the serious allegations contained in this Asia Sentinel report?